Happy New Year and welcome to 2016!
Traditionally, the beginning of the new year is a time when many people make resolutions. There is something about the clean slate of a brand spanking new year that seems to motivate people to change, or at least alter, some of their habits and to make a commitment to doing things differently.
Many of the most common resolutions seem to be to exercise more, eat healthier, or go on a diet to lose those extra pounds. And we all know that gym memberships skyrocketed this time of year, only to see attendance dwindle after a few weeks.
But what about trying out a digital diet?
I’m not talking about giving up all of your technology and all of your digital devices. In fact, you probably received some newer, updated gadgets for Christmas. And we all know that technology isn’t going anywhere, and is fully integrated as a part of our society.
Indeed, technology has changed the way that we communicate. It has truly opened up a global marketplace for businesses, and has allowed for individuals to meet and discuss issues with people all around the world.
But after advancing at warp speed, it seems as though a bit of digital fatigue is starting to set in. Perhaps the pendulum is starting to swing back to a place of balance. At least I hope so.
Over the holidays, those of us in Canada witnessed a television commercial produced and promoted by Telus that encouraged people to “unplug” for the holidays. Now, for those of you who are not familiar with this corporation, it is worth mentioning that Telus is one of the three major providers of Internet and mobile service in Canada. I think a message like this, coming from a corporation who obtains much of their revenue through the use of digital technology, speaks volumes about the misconception of our so-called connections and friends that have resulted from our love affair with technology.
I also recently saw an ad online for a chief marketing officer for a new startup. The business model for this new startup is about building community by actually meeting people face-to-face, in real life. Gee, what a novel idea! Their concept is kind of a mash up between a networking group and speed dating. They intend to hold networking groups in various locations with electronic signs over each table that mentions the topics of discussion at that table, allowing people to mingle and become involved in whatever topic they choose. Now, call me crazy, but I think it is ludicrous to think that something as time-tested and commonplace as a networking group has to disguise itself as an “online mimicking forum” in order to attract and entice people to actually meet with others face-to-face.
Now don’t get me wrong. I think technology is amazing, and has created benefits that were only dreamed of 20 years ago. But the other side of the coin is that people have forgotten how to interact personally with others. We all know people who boast of having thousands of online friends. But how close are these friends? I see people posting pictures of family dinners, kids receiving awards, family vacations… You get the point. And, to be frank, I don’t like it. First of all, I think it has the potential to be dangerous, especially for small children, to be exposed and shown all over the Internet. Secondly, maybe it is because I am a more private person, but I don’t see the benefit or the sense in sharing personal, private family moments with all of my connections online. Of course, some of my connections are family and friends, who are actual real, personal connections. For those folks, I find other ways to share these moments, either by private message, email, telephone call, or personal visit.
So, for 2016, why not try to take a digital diet. Don’t turn your back on technology; simply make a point of unplugging from time to time. Maybe you should turn your phone off after business hours. Or put it in another room while you’re having dinner with your family. Make a point of taking the time to meet face-to-face with people. There is great value, and pleasure, and actually looking in someone’s eyes.
Technology makes improvements that assist us in our day-to-day living and our needs. It is meant to serve a purpose for us, not to enslave us.
Just think about it…
Until next time…
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